My first solo at the Clarion, Springfield, MO. Nov. 2000*
I was 21 when I first started bellydance class with Yasmine in January of 2000. I was working part time at a Software Etc. and going to community college part time. I also met the Husband Person that same year. Last week marks the 10 year anniversary of bellydance in my life.
In the beginning of my bellydance experience, I would often have the following conversation with the Husband Person.
HB: "What are you thinking about?"
N: "Bellydance." (or costume, or music, or choreography, and so on)
This conversation repeated itself for about a year until the Husband Person finally thought it best to leave me staring off into space in the knowledge that I was thinking about bellydance but that I still loved him.
Mansfield Ren Faire, June 2000
When I think about how bellydance has affected and infected my life over the past 10 years I experience a big mesh of feelings. It is something I feel in my chest, and not to sound cliche, something I feel in my belly. I could spend all day giving you analogies and telling stories about how bellydance has changed my life and made me a better person and so on, but I could never truly describe to you the way my chest tightens when I see a dancer's real self on stage or the way a tabla rhythm physically echos deep in my belly.
Instead, I will list all of the many things and experiences bellydance has brought into my life.
With Jman and the Husband Person, Mansfield Ren Faire 2001
I've danced inside, outside, at night, in full sun, in the rain, in the wind, on concrete, on grass, on carpet, on gravel, on asphalt, on tables, on chairs, on big stages, on little stages, in living rooms, in backyards, on flatbed trailers, in corners, on dance floors, down streets, in restaurants, in clubs, in hotels, in coffee shops, for fundraisers, for birthdays, for grand openings, themed parties, for showcases, during parades, at parks, at ren faires, in a church, in a bank, in a warehouse, at a zoo, at a sci-fi/fantasy convention, in a library, at an education center, for a fashion show, and in a window display.
I've traveled to 5 cities (and everywhere in between) I had never visited before for the specific purpose of a bellydance function. I've met people from all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Brittan, Italy, Greece, Germany, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, India, Japan, and more.
I have met dancers, musicians, teachers, doctors, writers, singers, business owners, therapists, cooks, seamstresses, engineers, graphic artists, accountants, insurance agents, photographers, students, families, young people, old people, men, women, famous, and some just down the street.
Tony Orlando, Naima, Yasmine, Brittany Laleh, and Keshain, 2002?
I've learned about sewing, dancing, rhythms, instruments, props, culture and customs, religions, languages, food, business, time management, commitment, dedication, friendship, hardship, and ignorance.
I have learned to wear stage make-up and smile even when the audience doesn't smile back. I have a rhinestone jewelry collection, hundreds of bellydance music CDs, beads, coins, false eyelashes, costumes, scarves, circle skirts, veils, a sword, a cane, a tabla I never play, and an album full of bellydancers' business cards.
I've missed the beat, turned the wrong way, had the wrong music, and forgot what I was doing. I've picked glass out of my feet and beads from between my toes.
I've tripped, fallen, made faces (see pics 2002 and 2003 above), cut, bruised, twisted, ripped, glued, taped, safety pinned my self. I've been in crappy hotels and gotten sick off of the free food.
Beledi promo shot 2004
I got a speeding ticket once and I've spent too much money on costumes, music, and workshops.
My first Greek Night performance 2004
I made friends with people 10 years ago that I still have today. Some of their children have grown up. Others, have passed away.I've laughed a whole bunch and cried once or twice.
Without bellydance, a big part of my life would be empty. To all bellydancers new and old, I wish you many happy memories and a good journey.
PS - To the Husband Person, You have lived with me through all of this. I do love you more than bellydance.
*Picture dates are approximate and are only as accurate as my memory.